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New member Blade Made transforms waste rotor blades into social applications

Start-up Blade Made, the latest company to join Amsterdam IJmuiden Offshore Ports (AYOP), gives waste wind turbine blades a second life in urban spaces. “We look forward to meeting with other AYOP members to see how we can increase the realisation of these applications,” says Jan Willem de Laive, co-founder of Blade Made.

Although the number of wind farms on land and at sea is increasing globally, the recycling of the turbines after their economic lifespan has only recently become an issue for consideration and collaboration. The global wind industry creates a growing and currently very difficult to recycle waste stream of some 20,000 discarded blades a year. Rotor blades have various specific properties that make them incredibly suitable for applications such as large-scale outdoor furniture in urban and public spaces, and elements that require sustainable, ergonomic, unmoveable, vandalism-proof materials.

200 blades per kilometre

Start-up Blade Made is a partnership between architectural firm Superuse, New Citizen Design and Newton Brown Urban Design. The companies joined forces to take a circular approach to the large stream of discarded blades by designing scalable concepts. Examples include motorway sound barriers, playgrounds, outdoor furniture and infrastructural artworks. To illustrate, 200 blades can create one kilometre of sound barrier. “The potential uses are actually infinite,” says Jan Willem. “In addition to city benches and playgrounds, we’ve also created a bus stop and are currently working on a pedestrian bridge. The options are endless for creative minds.” 

The use of blades is sustainable, iconic, economically competitive and reduces the ecological footprint of projects in which they are used by up to 90% compared to standard solutions. Rotor blades can be used for another 50 to 100 years in their second life, if not longer.

Local meets global

Jan Willem: “Discarded rotor blades are everywhere and our aim is to build a global network of storage and production hubs for reuse. Converting locally available blades to local outdoor furniture makes the added value for society even greater. Once upscaled, we can make a considerable difference in the number of blades incinerated, dumped or downcycled into concrete or asphalt. For example, making just 5% of the public outdoor furniture in the Netherlands from discarded blades would see all the Dutch wind industry waste reused, an estimated 400 rotor blades a year.”

Sylvia Boer, AYOP director: “In a time of transition to a circular economy, Blade Made has already been a pioneer for years. Its applications initially seem so obvious and issues such as material usage are thankfully increasingly being considered at the design stage. Nonetheless, we continue to look for sustainable solutions for the current wind turbines at sea and on land. Blade Made provides a great answer and is therefore a welcome addition to AYOP!”

Dorothy Winters of AYOP wrote an article in March 2021 entitled How to make offshore wind circular exploring the challenges that emerge during the various stages of design, construction and maintenance.

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